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What Information Do Adsense Ads Collect

What Information Do Adsense Ads CollectOnline security and protection of information are serious issues on the internet. Some people will say "well, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about", though i doubt they would retain that attitude if you had a look round their house while they were on holiday and then defended you actions with "well, you don't have anything to hide, do you?" implying that someone's desire to keep private information private some how suggests guilt of some sort.

A discussion was raised on the WMT forum a week or so ago regarding the information that Google collect through their adsense ad blocks. It's understandable that they will collect information on the owner of the site and the people who click the adverts, but what information do they collect on the people who just view the adverts? Google are in a powerful position. They have adsense adblocks on millions of websites across the internet, and as these adverts are served with JavaScript it allows them to collect all sorts of information on anybody who views them, Everything from the referring URL to the persons screen resolution.

But what if they are also able to collect information like your age, your gender, Your address, Your Email address, Your interests or what job you do? Would that count as an invasion of privacy? As a search engine who make their money exclusively through advertising this amount of information would be priceless to Google when it comes to finding out what sorts of people view what sites and what sorts of people click what adverts.

If we have a look through the JavaScript file that is responsible for delivering adverts to your browser (pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js) we see a number of worrying variables.
In this JavaScript file the following items deserve special attention;
  1. google_cust_gender - This appears to be collecting gender, What do boys like and what do girls like,, valuable info.
  2. google_cust_interests - This seems to somehow collect what your interests are, Perhaps this is cross referenced with other sites you have visited, which are also collecting information.
  3. google_cust_id - It's hard to know exactly what this would get, But i would guess it's either your Google account name, Or your Gmail address.
  4. google_cust_job - Why would google need to know what job you do? Ah, yes that's right, So they can track what you do and where you go and build up a database of what doctors do, How much porn school teachers look at and how many hours the unemployed are online for.
  5. google_cust_age - Finally we have your age. An important statistic when it comes to figuring out key demographics.

So, Now we have had a look at the types of things Google may be looking for, Let's think about how they could gather this information. Afterall, You can't just put "get_me_job" in some JavaScript and expect it to get the information for you.

Your Google Account

The first and most obvious way of getting this information would be to use your google account or your Gmail account. If you are logged in at the time of viewing the advert it would be possible for Google to get this information from your account and then report it to adsense.

The Google toolbar

I believe the google toolbar is the most widely used toolbar with versions for every operating system and most browsers. So with this piece of software installed on your computer, and millions of others, it wouldn't be too difficult for google to gather the information from your profile, Or even go looking round your computer for it and store it ready to report to adsense whenever asked. Admittedly it would be quite "evil" if google were to go hunting around your computer for this information so i doubt they take this approach, Like everything in this post, It isn't a definite certainty, Only a possibility.

I am by no means an expert at JavaScript and personally im not even a fan of it. So if someone else could get to the bottom of these strange vars in the adsense JavaScript file i would appreciate if you could post your findings, Maybe we can get to the bottom of this.
| Google Now Supports NOODP META Tag »
| How To Rank Well In MSN »
| The Unimportance Of PageRank (PR) »
| New Yahoo! HomePage Goes Live »
| Free SEO and Adsense eBooks »
| Made For Adsense (MFA) Sites »
| PageRank (PR) Update In Progress »
| Webmaster And SEO Firefox Extensions »
| Turn Visitors Into Sales And Leads »

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ Wednesday, 26 July, 2006

So google has a "job" variable. How does Google find out what job I have?  

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ Monday, 20 November, 2006

I recently found a very interesting website:
There you can purchase ad space for your Blog etc.  

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